Malacañang confident with smooth passage of priority bills

Published July 9, 2019, 7:10 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

Malacañang is confident about the smooth passage of the administration’s priority bills even under a term-sharing arrangement between two lawmakers.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said there would be no disruption in the legislative work since the concerned Congress leaders have agreed to unite.

In a bid to resolve the rivalry of allies for the House leadership, President Duterte recently endorsed Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco to share the term as House Speaker in the 18th Congress. Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, another aspirant for the top House post, has been endorsed as the next Majority Leader.

“Nag-a-agree na nga iyong tatlo, sila nga ang magkakalaban ang nag-agree. They forged into unity. So how can there be disruption [The three contenders have agreed, they forged into unity so how can there be disruption?],” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing, when asked if the term-sharing arrangement must derail the approval of priority measures pushed by the Duterte administration.

“To their everlasting credit, they were pragmatic enough to admit na they have to forge a unity among themselves. Otherwise, magiging talagang dismembered iyong buong grupo [the entire group will be dismembered],” he added.

In endorsing the term-sharing of Cayetano and Velasco, Panelo explained that the President was merely “responding to the call for help” by the three lawmakers. He claimed that the three congressmen asked the President to intervene to prevent an imminent breakup of the administration coalition in the House.

“The agreement really was to bring the matter to the President, kasi nga hindi na sila nagkakasundo and there was a potential break-up on the alliance,” he said.

He said Duterte told them he did not want to interfere or intrude on their affairs but since they were the ones who are pleading for help, he agreed to make a decision. Under the term sharing deal proposed by the President, Cayetano will serve the first 15 months as House Speaker while Velasco will step in for the remaining 21 months.

“I can only guess na siyempre, gusto nung— either one of them mauuna, ‘di ba? Parang ‘Solomonic’ nga ‘yun eh. Iuuna kita pero 15 ka lang pero ‘yung isa naman, pangalawa, 21 months naman [I can only guess that either one of them wanted to go first, right? It was Solomonic. You will go first but you will have 15 months while the next one will serve for 21 months],” Panelo said.

Panelo also said it was now up to the administration allies in Congress whether or not to follow the President’s endorsement.

“Nasa kanila ‘yan kasi sila naman ang boboto, hindi naman si Presidente. Ayaw ni Presidenteng makialam, eh gusto nila pakialaman niya [That’s up to them since they will cast the votes, not the President. The President did not want to interfere but they wanted him to intervene],” he said.